Factors to Consider to Choose the Best Guitar Neck Blank

Factors to Consider to Choose the Best Guitar Neck Blank

What are the factors to be considered while choosing the neck of a guitar?

It is the neck of a guitar that supports the strings and the fretboard. Furthermore, it influences the physical appearance, tone, and playability. Some of the major factors that have to be considered while choosing a guitar neck blank are its density, strength, stability, length, etc.

What is the importance of Density, Length, and Stability of Guitar Necks?

  • Density

  • The wood density has a role in the tonal properties of the guitar neck. As the density increases, the space between the grains will become shallow and won’t allow the sound waves to move around. Such guitar neck blanks will produce bright sharp sounds. While a less density wood blank will allow more sound to travel and hence the sustainability of the tone increases.

  • Length

  • The length of guitar necks has an important role in the playability and feel of a guitar. It is the "scale length" that is considered as the actual length and not the distance between one end to another end of the neck. The length from the saddle of the guitar bridge to the nut at the headstock is considered to be the scale length.

    Tip: The best way to calculate the scale length is to measure the distance between the nut and the 12th fret of the guitar and then double the distance.

    What is the importance of scale length?

    Scale length plays an important role in the tone and feel of the guitar. As the scale length increases, the tension over the string has to be higher to get the right pitch and feel. Similarly, short scale length requires little string tension. The String action, Fret spacing, etc are some of the other characteristics related to the Scale length of a guitar. 

  • Stability
  • The neck of a guitar has to survive through many things such as climate changes, rough usage, age, storage, etc. The wood used for making guitar necks must be good enough to withstand all such situations. High-quality glues should be used in the joinery to avoid lose of tone clarity.

    What are the different types of Wood Grades?

    Now let’s examine the various wood grade terms used in the guitar world. Check out the below table to find out the grade name and its quality.


    Grade

    Quality

    3A

    Top

    2A

    Middle

    1A

    Entry-level

    A-Grade

    Top

    B-Grade

    Middle

    C-Grade

    Entry-level

    Master Grade

    Top

    Production

    Middle

    Factory

    Entry-level


    What is Grade Orientation in wood?

    Riff Cut

    A riff cut wood blank has its grains positioned either up or down diagonally. Such grain structure is not a high demanding one in the guitar neck market as it has no specific advantage over tonal quality. Riff cut woods are expensive and not common. Although, since it has no specific advantage in guitar neck build, people can go for a riff cut blank from a high-value wood at a reasonable cost.

    Plain sawn or Flat Sawn

    Flatsawn is the most common lumber cutting technique which is inexpensive as well. The tangential grain in the lumber resembles an arch-like shape once cut. The flat sawn wood looks perfect in birds eye maple.

    Quarter Sawn

    When each log is cut with a radial angle of four quarters in the sawmill, we get a quarter sawn lumber. A quarter sawn lumber is costlier than the regular flat sawn lumber. These lumbers produce a beautiful texture with straight grains and makes its own design over the wood. Since it allows the strongest grain arrangement in the wood, the lumber can be sawn into thin variants. Thus, a less weight guitar neck can be made.

    Acoustic Guitars Vs Electric Guitars

    Most of all of the electric guitar woods can be used for making acoustic guitars but not vice versa. Electric guitar sound can be amplified using various electronic sources, while the sound of acoustic guitars is mainly dependent upon the nature of the wood used. Hence, the grain nature and quality of the wood used in the acoustic guitars have to be given more emphasis compared to that of electric guitars.


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